Instagram Copyright Lawsuits

Can You Get Sued for Posting a Picture of Yourself on Instagram?


Instagram Copyright Lawsuits

The popularity of social media has exploded in recent years, with just about everyone having at least one type of social media account. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other platform, the reality is that social media accounts and interactions are pretty much unavoidable these days. Unfortunately, as more and more people use social media, there is also a greater chance of legal liability because intellectual property rights may be affected. Even paparazzi are filing copyright lawsuits against celebrities who post photos of themselves on Instagram. One question that comes up more than any other in this area of law is: Can you get sued for posting a picture of yourself on Instagram?

To find out whether you can be sued merely for posting a photograph of yourself on Instagram or other social media platforms, keep reading.

Copyright Troll Lawsuits Target Instagram Account Holders

There has been a proliferation of bad-faith lawsuits in California and other states where lawyers claim that the account holders are violating copyright laws. These copyright trolls are typically looking for a quick cash settlement, and they have little intention of ever taking the case to trial. If you are not careful when using social media, you could find yourself named as the defendant in a potentially expensive civil suit. That’s because copyright troll attorneys who scour the internet looking for supposed “copyright violations” won’t just limit their focus to actors, models, and other celebrities who post photographs of themselves on Instagram. The truth is that anyone who uses social media is at risk.

Copyright Troll Richard Liebowitz Sues Amy Schumer, Gigi Hadid, and Kim Kardashian

In the last three months, celebrities Amy Schumer, Gigi Hadid, and Kim Kardashian have all been sued for posting photos of themselves to their Instagram accounts. In each case, the photographer behind the photos in question has alleged that they are the owner and copyright holder of the media, and that the subjects of the photos have no right to post them. Richard Liebowitz, attorney for the plaintiffs in all cases, has filed complaints stating that, “One cannot use photographs without the photographer’s permission, even for social media websites.” The lawsuits involve DMCA takedown notices, as well a demand for monetary damages.

In the lawsuit against Amy Schumer, the plaintiff’s attorney claims that the photographs in question were copyrighted, even though he does not declare the date of the copyright. A search of records maintained by the United States Copyright Office shows that the photographs were copyrighted on February 8, 2020, which is three months after Schumer allegedly infringed on the copyright by posting the photos.

What Is the Best Way to Respond to a Copyright Troll?

If you’ve been accused of copyright infringement for posting a photograph on Instagram, your first step should be to speak with an experienced intellectual property lawyer who knows how to raise strong defenses against copyright lawsuits. An attorney who understands federal copyright laws can closely examine the facts of the case and identify problems with the original complaint.

For example, the complaint against Amy Schumer states that the plaintiff is “the sole owner of all right, title, and interest” in the photographs. However, if the photo was previously shared on a social media platform by the copyright owner, this may not be the case. Instagram’s terms of use agreement states that when a user shares, posts, or uploads content that is covered by intellectual property rights, they grant to the social media platform “a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivate works of the content.” As such, any plaintiff who posts a photo or video on Instagram is only a non-exclusive licensee of the work, and their legal exposure is probably limited.

Contact the Los Angeles Copyright Defense Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

Courts have been receptive to the Instagram copyright case defense, but the issue is not usually litigated because most copyright defendants opt to settle promptly and avoid a trial. If you have been accused of copyright infringement for posting content on your Instagram, Facebook, or other social media account, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. The Los Angeles copyright lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP have experience fighting back against copyright trolls and winning cases before they go to trial.

Call us at 310-590-3927, or send an email to discuss your case.